Save the planet: Have fewer children

April 22, 2015, 3:11 p.m. | By Maximillian Foley-Keene | 9 years, 3 months ago

Our planet is in a state of disrepair. Sea levels will rise seven to twenty-three inches by the end of this century due to global warming. Every year for the past fifteen years has been one of the twenty hottest years since 1880. As our planet gets hotter, droughts, hurricanes and floods will all become more common, and environmental degradation will lead to massive food and water shortages. Humans are completely at fault for this environmental unraveling. The scientific community is in consensus that we are the cause of climate change and environmental destruction. Some well-meaning politicians have finally recognized the scope and magnitude of this crisis. They suggest remedies like investing in green energy and supporting recycling efforts. While these are worthy goals, they don't address the root of the problem: there are simply far too many people on this planet. Overpopulation is a critical and under-discussed issue. To address it, humankind needs to undergo a cultural and biological shift. We need to stop having so many children.

It took more than 150,000 years for our population to reach just one billion . By 1900, there were nearly two billion people on the planet, and by 2000, more than six billion. The exponential nature of this growth is stunning and alarming. The United Nations predicts that, by 2050, our population will be at 9.6 billion people. Our current trends indicate that one billion people will be added to earth's population every twelve years.

The Earth's population has grown exponentially, leading to a global shortage of resources. Photo courtesy of Gone Unseen.

Our population growth is astronomical. This growth might be sustainable if we had the natural resources to accommodate it, but we don't. In 1965, humans used only 70 percent of the natural resources the planet could regenerate or repair each year; meaning the Earth's natural processes could more than make up for the resources used by humans. That is no longer the case. By the beginning of this decade, we used up the natural resources of 1.4 Earths. As the worldwide population continues to grow exponentially, and natural resources can't regenerate fast enough, we will continue to degrade and destroy our environment. Our land, our forests and our seas will continue to suffer the consequences of this exponential growth.

Growth is particularly concentrated in underdeveloped countries. Every minute, 157 people are added to our population. Of those, 153 of them are in underdeveloped countries. As we deplete our resources, we accentuate hunger and malnutrition in the developing world. More than 90 percent of people experiencing hunger live in the developing world, where population growth is highest. One in eight individuals living in developing countries goes to sleep hungry and one person every second dies of hunger or malnutrition. As we continue to deplete our natural resources and grow our population, more and more humans will go to bed hungry.

One solution to this boom is to increase access to contraceptives in developing countries. Among women in the developing world, 867 million (56 percent) are in need of contraceptives because they are sexually active but don't have access to modern contraceptive methods. In Nigeria, where contraceptives aren't readily available, the average woman has 6 children. When women have a greater control over family planning, they have the freedom to work and get educated. The Guttmacher Institute, an authority on family planning policy, says the global investment in providing contraceptives to the developing world is $4 billion a year. The cost of providing full access to developing countries would by $8.1 billion. That difference, $4.1 billion, accounts for .6 percent of the United States' annual defense budget. This is an investment that needs to made to get population growth under control.

The overpopulation of the Earth has devastating environmental consequences. Photo courtesy of Eco Internet.

But the problem is not just in the developing world. For those in developed countries who think that they get a free pass because the brunt of population growth is in the developing world, think again: although the United States makes up only 5 percent of the world's population, it accounts for 26 percent of its energy consumption. Every American-born child will contribute to the greatest generation of energy consumers ever.

This effort cannot be purely governmental. It must be cultural as well. Having a lot of children needs to be something families just don't do all that often. The world needs to realize the dangers of population growth and how it will affect the children they do have. If we want to survive, this is an effort our governments, charities and everyday families need to undertake. So have fewer children. It'll save the planet.

Tags: overpopulation population growth

Maximillian Foley-Keene. Hello! My name is Max and I'm an Editor in Chief for SCO this year. I like writing about what I think, especially current events, American foreign and economic policy. I also like music (jazz and 2000s post-punk are my favorites), art (Wassily Kandinsky is … More »

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